This past month, the Chicago Fire hosted our annual Fire Juniors Emerging Talent Program (ETP) ID camps at Lake Forest Academy, where we welcomed 116 female and 106 male Fire Juniors players along with 54 Fire Juniors coaches and staff members. The ETP ID camp is an invite-only camp that is designed to bring the best Fire Juniors talent from U11-U14 together for 4-days of high-level training on and off the pitch. The campers are nominated by their clubs for their tireless effort, dedication to their craft and top skill level. “It is an honor for these invited players to have been recognized and selected to train and play with such a talented group of players from across the country.” Said Coach Senad Hot from Chicago Fire Juniors North Shore.
The camps kicked off on July 23rd for the girls and July 31st for the boys, with a welcome meeting for players and parents before the players got their first taste of action with an on-field training session. Days two and three consisted of a mixture of more on-field trainings, off-field workshops, speed & skills testing and games. The speed & skills testing are the same tests used by the Chicago Fire Academy and provide another form of feedback to players as well as the coaching staff. “The camp had a competitive atmosphere that can’t be recreated elsewhere because of the talent it brought in,” shared coach Brittney Johnston from Indiana Fire Juniors South, “For all IFJS players that went, camp took them out of their comfort zone and allowed them to grow as individual players. The camp wrapped up with a final day of games, giving players the last opportunity to put into action what they learned over the four days.
With a strong emphasis placed on developing the player and person, the workshops offered the players an opportunity to learn about Chicago Fire Player Profiling, Chicago Fire Core Values, Nutrition, and more. The Girls ETP ID camp heard from Craig Jones with Kentucky Fire Juniors, Brain Roberts with the Chicago Fire Academy, and Monique Ryan from Personal Nutrition Designs. The Boys ETP ID camp lectures were led by BJ Johnson, and Felix Yu and Matt Pearson of the Chicago Fire Academy. Both players and coaches felt beyond getting to train at a highly competitive level, the ability to learn from each other and get new perspectives was what made the camp special. “The ETP Program provided not only a fantastic opportunity for high level players to play in a competitive environment, but also for coaches to share and learn from each other,” said Kentucky Fire Juniors coach Simon Bird.
Whilst the focus of the camps are very much on providing players a competitive environment to further develop their soccer I.Q., the camp also provides staff the chance to identify players they wish to put forward for the Fire Juniors Elite teams, who will come together and represent the Chicago Fire Elite at the Vegas Cup in early 2020. Coaches are hopeful that this experience will give even more motivation to their players and incentivizing everyone to work even harder for an invitation to next year’s ETP ID camp. Melissa Miller from Florida Fire Juniors club shared, “I know that the stories and experience that my players come back with inspires the other girls on my team to work that much harder for an invite.” A huge thank you to all the coaches and players that attended and wish them the best as they implement what they learned this season.